COVID-19: Public Justice’s Response and Resources

COVID-19: Public Justice’s Response and Resources

COVID-19 has caused extraordinary harm to Americans in a host of ways and we know that many of our Members are on the frontlines fighting to ensure justice prevails, even during a pandemic. At Public Justice, we’re fighting to protect people, too, and standing with our Member firms and attorneys to keep workers safe, fight predatory corporate conduct that harms the most vulnerable, and beat back attempts to shield those who are using the crisis as an opportunity to re-write laws and close the courthouse doors.

Read on to learn more.

  • We plan to revive our case against a Smithfield plant in Missouri. Last month, a judge allowed a similar case to go through against McDonald’s, which we have cited as developing case law which would help our nuisance case.
  • We are suing Amazon to defend the rights of warehouse workers who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19. Operations at Amazon’s JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York are not in line with CDC and New York State public health guidance on preventing the spread of COVID-19. In our complaint, workers and families call for improved leave policies and compliance with public health regulations, among other protective measures.
  • We are calling on the USDA to end federal support for dominant meat processing corporations amid allegations of racial discrimination. Meat processing megacorporations Tyson and JBS have adopted policies in their plants that disregard public health regulations to stop the spread of COVID-19, disproportionately impacting the Black, Latino, and Asian workforce at the companies’ plants.
  • When corporations facing accountability for illegal acts tried to grind all litigation to a halt, we compiled a list of resources, organized by state, for plaintiffs’ lawyers facing deposition obstruction during COVID-19. The list includes state-by-state orders, statutes, and rules, as well as court and case-specific updates in both state and federal courts. There is also a selection of sample briefs. This page will be updated as information changes. 
  • We’re fighting efforts to immunize companies that hurt workers, consumers and others from accountability in the courts. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is lobbying Congress and the White House to use the pandemic as an excuse to shield those who prey on, abuse and endanger the public. We’re partnering with our allies to defeat their dangerous ploy and make sure everyone keeps their right to their day in court. 
  • We’re suing corporate agriculture to force them to stop endangering their workers. Workers at a Smithfield pork processing plant in Missouri were working in extraordinarily dangerous conditions, and were pressured to work while sick. You can read more about the conditions in the Milan, Missouri plant in the New York Times, and about the significance of this lawsuit in this op-ed from our anonymous client in the Washington Post. Thanks to an immediate, initial court order in our client’s favor, Smithfield has already been forced to make the slaughterhouse far safer because of our lawsuit. 
  • We are supporting those made most vulnerable by the pandemic. People detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers already have limited access to healthcare and are more likely to get sick while in detention than people who can self-isolate at home or with family. Join Public Justice in calling on Congress and the court system to release detainees in ICE custody. 
  • We are calling on Congress to protect people from having their credit records ruined during the pandemic. We are urging Congress to pass the Disaster Protection for Workers’ Credit Act, which would provide for a mandatory four-month moratorium on all predatory credit reporting. It is imperative that the government learn from the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis. The government must protect those who are vulnerable to long-term, life-altering consequences of predatory lenders and dubious debt.
  • We are fighting to keep debt collectors from garnishing the stimulus funds sent to economically insecure Americans. We have been providing assistance to both lawyers fighting garnishment and to policymakers considering action in this area.
  • We are working to preserve public access to court proceedings during COVID-19 closures. We successfully pushed the Santa Clara County Superior Court to provide public and media access to the court during the pandemic by the end of April. It is more important than ever for there to be transparency in the US court system. 
  • We compiled a list of tips for law firms and qualifying non-profits seeking funds under the paycheck protection program. If a law firm carefully selects their bank, checks their application was submitted to the SBA, and explores multiple possibilities, there is a higher likelihood of success. Read the details in our blog post.

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